Higher Testosterone Level Associated with Lower Risk for CV Death in Men

Older men with higher circulating androgen levels combined with higher levels of physical activity are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome or die of cardiovascular disease than men with lower androgen levels combined with low physical activity, according to a cross-sectional analysis published in Clinical Endocrinology.

“In older men, having higher testosterone concentrations and being more physically active may reflect being healthier, or may contribute to better health,” Bu Beng Yeap, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, a professor at the University of Western Australia Medical School and endocrinologist at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, told Endocrine Today.

Yeap and colleagues analyzed data from 3,351 older men participating in the population-based Health in Men Study who completed questionnaires assessing physical activity and attended physical exams between 1996 and 1999 and again between 2001 and 2004 (mean age, 77 years; mean BMI, 26.4 kg/m²). Metabolic syndrome was defined as meeting at least three of five criteria: hypertension, hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL cholesterol or central obesity. Follow-up of hospital admissions and death were assessed via the Western Australia Data Linkage System.

Based on using median splits to determine “high” vs. “low,” researchers stratified the cohort by four groups: high hormone and high physical activity; high hormone and low physical activity; low hormone and high physical activity; and low hormone and low physical activity.

Researchers used linear regression to compare mean BMI and waist circumference across the four groups and logistic regression to compare the prevalence of metabolic syndrome across groups. In follow-up analysis, researchers used Cox proportional hazard models to compare risk for fatal and nonfatal CV events across the four groups.

During a mean follow-up period of 10 years, researchers observed 865 CVD events and 499 CV deaths.

Researchers found that, in models adjusted for age, prevalent CVD, smoking and cardiometabolic factors, men with higher total testosterone and higher levels of physical activity had a lower risk for CV events during follow-up than men with low testosterone and low physical activity (HR = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.67-0.98), as did men with higher testosterone but low levels of physical activity (HR = 0.73; 95% CI, 0.6-0.89).

“Thus, higher [testosterone] was associated with lower incidence of CVD events irrespective of [physical activity] levels,” the researchers wrote.

In similarly adjusted models, men with higher levels of testosterone or dihydrotestosterone and higher physical activity were less likely to die of CV causes during follow-up vs. men with low levels of testosterone or dihydrotestosterone, with HRs of 0.76 (95% CI, 0.59-0.98) in the testosterone group and 0.71 (95% CI, 0.55-0.92) for the dihydrotestosterone group.

Researchers also observed an inverse association between higher androgens and higher physical activity with a lower, age-adjusted risk for metabolic syndrome, with men in the high hormone, high physical activity group seeing the greatest benefit. Results for calculated free testosterone mirrored findings observed with total testosterone, according to the researchers.

Yeap said the findings provide a rationale for further research.

“A randomized controlled trial in which men are treated with testosterone and provided with an exercise program would be needed to prove whether or not this would improve their health,” Yeap said.

For more information:

Bu Beng Yeap, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, can be reached at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, 11 Robin Warren Drive, Murdoch 6150, Western Australia, Australia; email: bu.yeap@uwa.edu.au.

Hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats? There’s help for menopause symptoms

Menopause is a natural life occurrence that all women will experience as hormonal changes cause the menstrual cycle to stop. Menopause can happen as a woman reaches ages 40 to 50, although the average age in the United States is 51.

While emotional and physical symptoms may accompany menopause, there are treatment options available to help ease the symptoms.

Women are diagnosed with menopause after they’ve gone a year without a menstrual period and are no longer fertile. Women may experience symptoms of menopause in the years or months leading up to it. This phase is caused perimenopause, which starts when a woman’s ovaries cut back on the production of estrogen and progesterone, and release eggs less often.

During perimenopause, symptoms may include hot flashes, irregular periods, chills, mood changes, night sweats, weight gain, thinning of hair, and loss of breast fullness.

Menopause can happen sooner for some women, including those who smoke or have experienced cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapies can interfere with hormone levels and lead to early menopause. If a woman has her ovaries removed, or if the ovaries aren’t producing normal levels of female hormones, this can result in early onset of menopause.

A study found that 80 percent of women who experience menopause reported no decrease in quality of life, according to the North American Menopause Society.

However, menopause can lead to an increased risk for osteoporosis, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, decreased desire for sex and discomfort during sexual activity. Women can also experience a frequent urge to urinate and urinary tract infections.

While symptoms of menopause are usually enough to diagnose it, a physician may also conduct a blood and urine test to detect changes in hormone levels. Treatment may be necessary if symptoms interfere with daily activities.

When experiencing menopause, you can help relieve symptoms by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, exercising daily, keeping rooms at a cooler temperature, dressing in layers so you can remove layers when needed, undergoing acupuncture or participating in yoga.

If symptoms persist or are severe, medical treatment may be necessary, including hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, low-dose antidepressants, or prescribed medications to help reduce hot flashes, and prevent and treat osteoporosis.

If you are going through menopause and are not experiencing relief from symptoms, contact your physician or Blueprint Health about treatment options, risks and benefits. If symptoms are still present, it may be a sign of a more serious problem that your physician will help address.

This Is Your Body on Candy

Overindulging in Halloween candy can wreak havoc on your body's systems.

Overindulging in Halloween candy can wreak havoc on your body's systems.

Your heart, joints and even mood take a hit.

Each year, kids come back from trick-or-treating with pillowcases filled with chocolate bars, taffy, sugar-filled sticks and more. After they're done swapping their treats and picking their favorites from the pile, Parents are stuck with buckets of goodies just begging to be eaten. But before indulging your kids' reject pile, think about how candy affects different parts of the body. It helps to reject the treats, too. Here's what to know before digging in: 

Your Teeth

According to the American Dental Association, hard candy, sticky foods and sour candy top the list of worst candies for your teeth. In addition to being high in added sugar, hard candy can lead to dental emergencies like broken or chipped teeth. Who needs to be dragging a kid to the dentist to get that baby fixed? Sticky candy like taffy is tougher to remove and may stay longer on teeth. This gives cavity-causing bacteria more time to wreak havoc on your mouth. And, when it comes to sour candy – especially those that are sticky and coated in sugar – they can be very acidic, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.

Although a small handful of candy won't bust your gut, eating an extra few hundred calories a day can lead to weight gain. If you're a chocoholic like me, those bad boys are filled with saturated fat and carry a hefty calorie tag. It's probably more likely you're eating 1,000 or more extra calories per day if you're bingeing on them.

Your Heart

Studies have strongly connected a diet high in saturated fat with an increased risk of heart disease. Eating one full-sized Hershey bar (a real score, according to my kids) will give you 220 calories and 42 percent of the recommended daily amount of saturated fat. Eat a bar every day (or binge on a handful of minis) and you've probably gone over the recommended amount of saturated fat for the day. Over time, this can increase your risk of heart disease.

Your Mood

A 2016 study in Scientific Reports linked intake of sweet food, beverages and added sugar with symptoms of depression. The study, which looked at the dietary patterns of over 23,000 men and women, showed that men who had the highest intake of sugar from sweet food and beverages had a 23 percent higher change of having the common mental disorder after five years. Men and women who consumed the highest amount of sweet foods and sugar were also more likely to have recurring depression.

Another study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the link between foods with higher glycemic indexes and glycemic loads and the incidence of depression using data from about 88,000 postmenopausal women. The study found that women with a diet higher in high glycemic index foods and added sugar were more likely to have depression.

Your Joints

According to the Arthritis Foundation, added sugar from chocolate bars and candy can trigger the release of cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers. Further, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition including data from nearly 200,000 women found that those who consumed one or more servings of sugar-sweetened soda per day had a 63 percent higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who consumed no sugar-sweetened soda or those who consumed less than one serving per month. 

Your Pancreas

Every time you eat any food with sugar, your pancreas releases insulin. Overindulging in sugar for a long period of time can result in your pancreas releasing even more insulin. Eventually, your poor, overworked pancreas doesn't work efficiently, which can lead to high levels of blood sugar and possibly even Type 2 diabetes.